NRL news 2024 | South Sydney Rabbitohs, Penrith Panthers round nine result; Andrew Johns and Cameron Smith comments

South Sydney fell back into “bad habits” and recorded yet another loss, conceding 42 unanswered points against reigning premiers Penrith as their defence and discipline was labelled as “not acceptable” by one NRL legend.

After a horror week, the Rabbitohs took to the field under the guidance of interim coach Ben Hornby, who has taken over the reins from Jason Demetriou

Jai Arrow and Jacob Host were both given marching orders by referee Adam Gee at different stages of the contest, highlighting the issues plaguing the Bunnies.

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The hosts took an early 12-0 lead after Panthers centre Izack Tago was binned for a hip-drop, but an awful defensive effort from the aforementioned Host paved way for Penrith halfback Brad Schneider to power over the line and it was one-way traffic from there.

”That is poor defence … that’s not acceptable,” Andrew Johns said on Nine.

“If you watch Host, he just relaxes and doesn’t sprint to the threat. That’s poor defence on the edge. You need to sprint to the threat.”

Penrith continued to capitalise on South Sydney’s “terrible discipline” – as described by referee Gee when Arrow was sat down for 10 minutes – gaining easy metres and a string of penalties to continue their attack inside the Rabbitohs half.

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Luke Garner crossed over the line to score the visitors’ third-straight try before the break and give them a lead going into the sheds.

To make matters worse for Souths, halfback Dean Hawkins was taken off the field and later ruled out of the game with a quad injury, while young fullback Jye Gray didn’t feature in the second half after succumbing to an ankle injury caused by Tago’s tackle.

The lapses in defence and forced reshuffles ultimately proved too much for the Rabbitohs to overcome, with the Panthers running out 42-12 victors. 

“A lot of effort tonight [from Souths] … but when it mattered, it was all Penrith,” Cameron Smith said on Nine.

“They fell back into some bad habits – some soft defence, poor errors and in this competition – particularly when playing against a quality outfit – you just can’t give up those opportunities.”

The last-placed cardinal and myrtle will take on traditional rivals St George Illawarra in round 10, while the reigning champs face the Bulldogs. 

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